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Frog Pond Philosophy: Essays on the Relationship Between Humans and Nature

by Strachan Donnelley edited by Ceara Donnelley and Bruce Jennings foreword by Frederick L. Kirschenmann

Availablecloth$80.00x 978-0-8131-6727-5
Availablepaperback$30.00s 978-0-8131-7669-7
Culture of the Land
266 pages  Pubdate: 02/09/2018  6 x 9  

The philanthropist and philosopher Strachan Donnelley (1942–2008) devoted his life to studying the complex relationship between humans and nature. Founder and first president of the Center for Humans and Nature, Donnelley was a pioneer in the exploration and promotion of the idea that human beings individually and collectively have moral and civic responsibilities to natural ecosystems.

In this wide-ranging volume, Donnelley traces the connections between influential figures such as Aldo Leopold and Charles Darwin, as well as lesser-known but original thinkers that he met during the course of a full life—ministers at his church, friends with whom he fished, and colleagues who shared his passion for research and writing. He grounds his work in classic philosophers such as Descartes, Spinoza, and Whitehead and reinterprets their writings about the natural world to develop a conservation-centered philosophy, which he dubs “democratic ecological citizenship.”

Edited by his daughter, Ceara Donnelley, and Bruce Jennings, Frog Pond Philosophy illuminates the dominant strands of Donnelley’s intellectual identity as a philosopher, naturalist, agitator, and spiritualist. Despite his often grim depiction of the current state of the environment, Donnelly never surrenders his faith in humanity’s ability to meet its ethical obligations to conserve, respect, and nurture the complexity and diversity of the natural world. His vivid and personal essays, rooted in everyday experiences, offer a distinctive perspective on questions of urgent contemporary importance.

Strachan Donnelley (1942–2008) worked in the fields of bioethics and environmental philosophy, and was active in conservation and philanthropy. As director of education and later president of the Hastings Center, he studied environmental and animal research issues. In 2003, he founded the Center for Humans and Nature and served as its president until his death. Learn more about the Center for Humans and Nature at

Proceeds from the sale of Frog Pond Philosophy will be directed to the Center for Humans and Nature in support of the Center's work promoting moral and civic responsibilities to the whole community of life.

Frog Pond Philosophy combines the rigors of hard-core philosophy with the reflections of an avid outdoorsman and naturalist. Donnelley states boldly the need for healing the divide between humans and nature, and he gently nudges readers out of their conceptual categories and comfort zones. -- Bill Vitek, coeditor of The Virtues of Ignorance: Complexity, Sustainability, and the Limits of Knowledge

A highly intelligent, unusual, demanding book that asks for, and rewards, serious attention. It reflects the quality of a fine mind, a passionate spirit, and a dedicated champion of ‘nature alive.’ It is a worthy book for a world that needs it. -- Elizabeth Minnich, author of Transforming Knowledge

We encounter a whole person in these pages—Donnelley is a man of immense vitality,
commitment, love for the world and particular individuals, courage and grace, whose ideas, words, flights of speculation and moral exhortations were totally integral to who he was. Reading this book was a pleasure. -- J. Ronald Engel, coeditor of Democracy, Ecological Integrity and International Law